The first chapter introduces the reader to the policy concept of the circular economy and provides them with a first understanding of the structure of the argument in the book. Both for stylistic and methodological reasons, we do so by introducing the metaphor of “the sixteenth century map”. Sixteenth century maps were intended to be accurate representations of the world but not from “the view from nowhere”. The ideas, dreams and fears of the authors of these maps were ubiquitously present in the maps, for instance in the shapes of monsters and unicorns. What is known and thought about the circular economy so far indeed resembles a sixteenth century map, in which ad hoc detailed information is combined with imprecise notions of circularity. Repeatedly, the book will return to this metaphor, critically discussing the implications of navigating by such a map. Chapter 1 takes up the question “What is the circular economy?” and shows that it might actually be a lot of things at the same time while also being different things in different places. The chapter also introduces the structure of the book and briefly describes each chapter that follows.